3 adoptions. 2 mom’s. 1 baby.

As many of you know I am passionate about adoption!  It’s my story and the story of many MANY others!  I’ve always wanted to interview the biological and adoptive parents of a child to see what adoption is really like on both sides.  I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to do just that!  This particular adoption is near and dear to my heart as the baby in this situation is my nephew, Ezra.  He, by God’s plan, is my sister’s son…..and boy is he CUTE!

I asked Ezra’s mom, my sister 5 questions about the adoption process.  I also asked Ezra’s birth mother the same 5 questions.  This might be one of the most interesting situations on earth.  To put an even greater twist to this story, consider that both of the mothers in this story were adopted themselves!

QUESTION 1 – WHY DID YOU CHOOSE ADOPTION?

Birth Mom: 

From the moment I saw the positive sign on the pregnancy test, adoption was in the back of my mind.  I told the father I was pregnant and he freaked out.  That’s when I realized with two kids already, I didn’t think I could make it on my own with 3.  During my pregnancy I worked with a social worker who showed me bio’s of parents.  The parents I chose didn’t even have a picture on theirs but they stood out to me.  I decided to meet them.  After meeting them I knew they were exactly the kind of people I want my baby to be raised by.  I made the official decision right after my son was born and when I saw his adoptive dad hold and look at him with such loving eyes, I knew that’s where my baby belonged.  They had so much more to offer him.

Adoptive Mom:

We talked about adoption even before we were married.  It was always in our hearts.  But after two years of trying to conceive, there were many complications.  We had to ask ourselves, “are we going to be okay if we are never able to have our own biological children?”  We didn’t have to think about it long, we chose adoption because we believe it’s the center of the heart of our Father in heaven.  We are called to take care of the orphans and widows and that’s what we wanted to do.

QUESTION 2 – WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE ADOPTION?

Birth Mom: 

The most difficult part was leaving the hospital without my son.  I remember the doctor coming in with all the paperwork completed.  I scooped my baby up to say goodbye.  I don’t even know who I handed him to because I was crying so hard, all I could see was a blur.  I remember sitting in my car looking out the window and not talking to anyone for a long time.  I just held my other sons hand.

Adoptive Mom:

The most difficult part was all of the preparation it took to adopt a baby and then being reminded of the reality that in the very end, having gone through the whole process…..not getting a baby.  The whole thing could fall through in a moment.  You put your time, money and emotions out on the line and not get a baby.  That was the toughest part of the process.  We had to trust that God had it all planned out.

QUESTION 3 – WHAT IS IT LIKE HAVING AN OPEN ADOPTION?

Birth Mom:

I too was adopted.  I always thought that my own biological mother must not have wanted me because I wasn’t good enough or she didn’t love me.  But then I met her.  I learned otherwise.  I now want my son to know in an open adoption that no matter what I love him more than life itself.  He may not be with me physically but he is in my heart every minute of every day.  I hope he understands that and doesn’t resent me.

Adoptive Mom:

After meeting my baby’s biological mother, she had one request.  As a mother, I now feel like my life’s goal is to help accomplish this one request.  She wanted to make sure our son knew that his biological mother loves him.  We made an adoption plan and have stuck to it.  We’ve exchanged letters, pictures and had many visits.  It’s been wonderful.  We have gained more family through it all!  I pray every day that he knows he is loved by so many people.  We will continue to build relationship with his biological mother and family.

QUESTION 4 –

Birth Mom: WHY DID YOU CHOSE OPEN VERSES CLOSED ADOPTION?

I always wished I knew my birth mom when I was adopted.  I never knew where I came from or why it happened.  It caused a lot of problems when I was younger.  I also wanted to be able to watch my son grow up.  If closed adoption was the only option, I don’t think I would have been able to do it.  At the hospital after he was born, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  I just kissed him and said I’ll see you later.  I would have never been able to say goodbye for good.

Adoptive Mom: WHAT WILL YOU TELL YOUR SON ABOUT HIS ADOPTION?

We want to talk about adoption very openly from the beginning.  We want him to know that his biological mother made a very bold and selfless decision by placing him for adoption.  It reminds me of the sacrifice God made when he gave his son for the sins of the world and how hard that decision must have been.  We are so grateful for the selfless decision our son’s birth mother made.

QUESTION 5 – WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?

Birth Mom:

I don’t know if I could do it again or not.  It would depend on the situation.  I’m engaged now so I don’t think it will ever be necessary again.  I don’t know what to say as far as wether I would or not again, it would just depend on the situation.

Adoptive Mom:

YES!  We believe that we have a lot of love to share and there are many children that need a mom and dad.  We know that there will be tough times but we trust God to show us how to be the best parents we know to be.  People have been inspired to adopt because of Ezra’s story.  It’s fun to walk with other couples through the process as well.

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What a powerful interview!  I want to thank both of the courageous mothers who were willing to be vulnerable and honest  in their answers to these questions.  I think both of your sides of Ezra’s story will inspire and encourage many people!  Thank you again!

EZRA:

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An atheist turned Christian

Are you wondering if God is real?

Are you an atheist?

Are you a Christian who’s forgotten how powerful God really is?

This is a story that cannot be hidden.  One that tells of a woman who’s courageous decision meant life or death.  I met Samantha at one of the ministries my husband is a pastor of here in Highland MI, called Momentum, an 18+ God party is what we like to call it.  She inspires me and the fire she now has for life is one I hope I live with every day.

Sam’s story:

There is a defining moment that will remain in conscious forever. What was once a fond memory of my first official defiance of social standards and the initial dip into rebellion is now a satisfying reminder of how far God has brought me from where I was. I was playing the Sims next to my best friend Morgan as I thought seriously about how to announce to her my newfound conclusion about the universe. Her family was Catholic and I had attended a few churches and camps with her, explaining to anyone that would listen that I was looking into religion, but I just wasn’t sure. I turned to her, looked her straight in the face, and proclaimed proudly, “I’m an atheist.”
She looked at me a bit confused, probably because we were both thirteen at the time. She didn’t know what “Atheist” meant. I explained to her that an Atheist doesn’t believe in God because it didn’t make sense. I told her all about evolution. I detailed the Big Bang theory. She looked at me with sorrowful features. She was definitely near tears.

“You have to believe in God!” she responded.
“See, its stuff like that,” I said, “That make me hate religious people.”

This event almost entirely sums up my religious background for the majority of my life. Except that it got worse. I can’t say why exactly, but my extreme dislike for religion and religious people was unbelievably deep rooted. I would spit fire at anyone who would even hint at the concept of God. It didn’t help that I was smart and could form objections to any religious fifth graders’ remarks about something even as small as going to church. I would go home and study Atheistic concepts and go to bed ready to tear people apart at school the next day. Satan had a vice-like grip on me.

I was rarely involved in religion when I was young. If you wanted to describe my family, you’d say liberal. Except you wouldn’t say liberal, because that wouldn’t cover it. You’d have to shout it. Marijuana is a topic at Thanksgiving. My uncle is Geoffrey Feiger, a prominent Democratic lawyer in Michigan who represented Jack Kevorkian in his trial concerning euthanasia. I remember coming home from school one day during the Bush/Kerry election and jumping around my kitchen, proclaiming to my mother that I was a Democrat. Not to generalize, but in my families case, the liberal and non-religious stereotype plays out flawlessly. My family does not like nor does it respect religion. And when I ultimately accepted Jesus, there was a substantial backlash among my immediate and parts of my extended family.

When I was sixteen I had a poster of Bill Maher’s Religilous, a documentary about the idiocy of religion, hanging proudly on my wall. It was my favorite movie. I recklessly rioted in my Government class against the Conservative Christian, Caleb (and close friend now, actually), almost daily. I wrote notes in my sisters Bible to “Not believe the BS!” when she decided to go off to Bible camp. I was ruthless.

When I stepped onto the platform to graduate, I accepted my diploma as a Liberal, Agnostic, feminist stoner with a history of dating boyfriends who were similar. And I was proud! I can say with all sincerity that I absolutely loved my image. I was on my way to Central Michigan University with my whole life ahead of me, fresh off being Cross Country and Track captain and just breaking a school record, plus I had money in my bank account for graduating… I was ready.

But I wasn’t ready. Within a month of attendance I got in trouble with weed. I was woken up one morning by police banging on the door of my dorm room. My life spiraled. I really learned how to drink. I spent literally all my graduation money, over $2000, on hookah bars, alcohol, pot and munchies.  My life spiraled more. I made the ingenious decision to cheat on my loving boyfriend. I got depressed and started cutting. Then I came home and stayed home, telling myself that the place was the problem. If I could just pull myself away from that place for a little while, my head would surely realign itself.

My dad and I fought continuously and my presence came with unbearable heaviness. Honestly, I was not a pleasant person to be around, much less live with. I caused so much turmoil within my family from my constant outbursts that I decided to leave and move in with my ex-boyfriend. Genius! I brought the same amount of anguish into his life. I’d wake up, watch his family go off to their school and jobs, loathe myself, sleep till three, play Skyrim, cut myself, and pour my heart out to him when he got home. Thank God for his patience.

I decided to take a train to North Carolina. On the first night, I met a cute guy named Dee at a super bowl party. He texted me trying desperately to tell me about Jesus but I never agreed. Its incredible looking back at how God tried so many times to insert Himself into my life and how I completely ignored the call. While there I continued to compulsively cut myself and drink a lot which seriously negatively impacted the lives of people that I was meeting and on the last night, I got a drinking citation. I went home, got bored, and met a girl online. We went to California together.  I tried out my first gay relationship and we got matching tattoos. It now says Imagine on my left hip, a tribute to the classic Atheistic John Lennon song. At that point I was completely out of money and actually had to go home.

All my friends were off at college. My ex-boyfriend, the incredibly forgiving guy that he is, invited me occasionally to hang out with a group of dudes who would sit around, smoke pot, and get incredibly deep about a wide range of trippy subjects. I was completely intrigued and soon I was welcomed in as a regular; I went by “Miss Blunt.” I tried Mushrooms and MDMA for my first time and I felt like my life was changed. I felt as though I had finally found my outlet: drugs and deep conversation. I felt like a multi-dimensional existential philosopher or something. Then, to my displeasure, a few of the members of the group went Jesus-freak on me. For some reason, I was extremely attracted to one of them.

I don’t remember our first kiss because I was drunk. Our second kiss was on shrooms. I was “in love.” We spent a lot of time together but because of many reasons, he broke up with me a lot. I desperately pleaded to get back with him a lot as well, which was a disgustingly regular thing with me and men. Finally, we actually broke up. And for some reason I actually said okay, let’s be friends.

I started reading a book called Conversations With God, a book about a general, non-Christian god. Somehow I started believing in this “god” through my experiences with my stoney group of friends and marijuana. And hallucinogens. Buddhism or whatever, man. Energies. And so I called up my now ex-boyfriend, and my best friend Derek, two Christians, and we went to a gazebo so I could show them all the underlined portions of the novel where I would surely debunk their faith.

Something beyond strange happened. They had brought their Bibles with them. And when I would open to a page in my book, they would turn to a page in the Bible, and it would correspond. Somehow, magically, match up. (Thank you Jesus!) My eyes kept darting to their literature and away from mine. At some point I had put my book down and picked up Holy Scripture for the first time in my entire life.

“This is weird,” I remarked. “I feel weird.” I felt the Holy Spirit in me. I mean then, it felt like drugs or something else, but definitely nothing I had ever felt before. I asked them about Jesus. I wanted to learn. I texted my friends telling them I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I’m telling you, I felt like I was on drugs. But I wasn’t. I was sober. Oddly enough.

My ex became my boyfriend again the next day through attraction to my newfound faith. But I fell out. The ever-present hatred of Christianity so boldly lingered. Even when I tried to pray to Jesus, I’d get a horrible internal feeling of absolute hate. I had no idea how I was supposed to love Jesus.

I began going to church at Northridge with my close friend Abby every week, all the while periodically falling in and out of the faith. This is real, this isn’t real, this feels real, this doesn’t feel real, and how could this possibly in a billion years be real. It was a struggle for months but at Northridge one night, I gave up. Enough signs had surfaced and I felt like I finally might have had felt the truth of the universe.

Soon after my revelation but still filled with doubts, I went off to Upper Peninsula Bible Camp with two close friends, both named Charlotte. I was newly single at this point and hurting incredibly. But that week completely changed my life. I learned how Jesus could mend a broken heart, my broken heart. I learned how to sing and worship to our God. There was a service every morning and night and I cried during every single one. I learned how to pray and truly feel His presence. I talked to countless older women and men about my new identity. Many tears were shed over every piece of myself I’d have to give up. It was nothing short of an identity crisis. I didn’t even completely know how to interact with people, not talking about drugs and sex or being able to swear. But somehow, for each part of myself I gave up, I felt fuller and more complete. And for the first time in my entire life: happy. Really happy.

At the end of the week I got baptized with two beautiful girls I met at camp. I walked out into the middle of the lake and got dunked under water proudly declaring Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Everyone sang “How Great Is Our God” as I walked back. I’m telling you, I promise you, this image will never leave my mind for my entire life. I wept absolutely uncontrollably and hugged every person I had met. I shared my testimony by a bonfire that night, proclaiming to everyone the incredible power of prayer.

Jesus changed my life. As I began to tell people about my faith, I learned about the multitudes of people praying for me to get saved. I’ve never known anything as fulfilling and amazing as this life that I’m living now, and I started it five months ago. The Samantha that I used to be is a distant thing of the past and someone who I never want to meet again. I’ll wear these scars and this tattoo as a reminder of how far I’ve come, but I have no desire to pick back up any of the labels God has helped me to drop. No amount of sex, drugs, alcohol, deep trippy conversation, feminist rants, or anything else in the whole entire word could replace what I’ve received. He has completely molded me into a new person. My family life is remarkably better, I’m happier and livelier, I don’t need anything but God to fill me now, and the people in my life and my church family make me the happiest girl alive.

Last week I brought Morgan (refer to the beginning of this story) to church with me. We hadn’t talked in about a year and she was falling out of religion. Last week she rededicated her life to Christ and we’re rebuilding our friendship through Him. It’s funny how things change. The power of Jesus Christ… I have to stop. I have no words. I’m forever grateful. Jesus saved me, and Jesus is all I will ever, ever, ever need.

Samantha

The Scarlet X

This is a story and experience I had this past summer that I haven’t completely processed yet in my mind and heart.  Normally I would do that before I write but, for some reason, I feel that this story just needs to be told.
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This past summer I was  ministering and leading mission teams to another one of LightBridge’s locations in Cambodia.  I LOVE Cambodia!  It’s such a bizzare place and has become one of my favorite places in the world to go.  Our ministry site sets on the largest strip of mined land in the world.  We call it, the Minefield Village.  This village is made up of about 500 families and 3 years ago, God helped us build a school there to begin educating children who had never even seen a pencil before.  The poverty that surrounds most of Cambodia is a result of the war most people know as, The Killing Fields.
On this particular day, we were getting ready to hand out clothes to women in the village that our team had brought from their homes in America.  Our Cambodian contact and friend came to us with a concern.  He shared with us that we must becareful how we go about handing out clothes because if the distribution isn’t fair, the women will become jealous of one another and it will cause division among them.
I had never thought about that.  Our staff at LBI is currently reading a book called, “When helping hurts.”  This was the perfect example of where what we think is helping people could really cause harm and do great damage.  Our goal or intention was certainly not to cause these people to turn on one another but to love them by giving them another set of clothes to add to the dirty stinky ones they wear most everyday because of the lack of clean water and money to get new clothes.
Our contact told me that he would have the women line up on the outside of the school door and handed me a red permanent marker.  He instructed me to write an X on their shirt collars and only let 3 women in at a time to pick out 3 items of clothing and then leave.
I was mortified!!  This guy just asked me to write a red X with permanent marker on the very few blouses that these women own!  No way!  I decided that I couldn’t do it and begged him to let me write on their hands instead.  To this, he held out one of his hands and told me to write on it.  I drew a big X on it and he immediately took his other hand, put a finger in his mouth and wiped off the X hand with his spit.  He wiped it off so well and so quickly that I couldn’t even see remnence of what I had written.  He told me that I had to write on their clothing because they will wipe off the X on their hands, lie and come back for more.  He reminded me that we want to make sure each woman gets something and we don’t run out.
Not that any of this is about me…..but I felt so bewildered in that moment.  I knew that what he was telling me made sense but it felt so juvenile!  It felt so ugly and gross.  It felt like it wasn’t about clothing individual women who have a story and children who need something as basic as clothing, but about herding some sort of animal in a straight and organized line so the herd doesn’t get out of control.  Please understand that I am not calling these women animals, infact my point is the very opposite.  I wanted to believe that these women loved each other and wouldn’t turn on each other.  I wanted to believe that each woman could get for themselves and their children enough for their whole family.  I wanted this to be what I expected it to be….simply giving new clothes and showing another aspect of God’s love to them.
As the women lined up, I could see a fierceness in them.  I realized that these women are not cruel and mean in and of themselves but when in survival mode, will do what it takes to stay alive and to keep their children alive.  Earlier that day, we had a few mothers steal food we had brought for the children.  WHAT!  But I began to realize that if we were giving, they would take.  They would take without relent.  They would take not considering the neighbor beside them.  It was about getting as much as they could to live.
I’m not saying this community doesn’t take care of each other.  Infact, I know they do.  But it’s amazing how quickly what we think is helping, bringing in resources can have the very opposite affect than what we had hoped or planned.
So one by one, I drew an X on these women’s shirts that I had seen them wearing consecutive days in a row, knowing they don’t have other clothes.  It killed me.  How was I showing them their value as people while drawing an X on their clothing because if we didn’t, they knew that we knew they’d come back for more….and really, what’s so wrong with that?  They should want and desire to come back for more.  With each X I wrote while guarding the door because they were about to trample me to get in, I felt more sad.  I felt sad because this situation in the world shouldn’t be happening.  I felt sad that they knew as well as I did that the ramifications of not being orderly in this situation would cause more harm than good.  I felt sad that everyday that I showed up to the Minefield Village to minister to these people, I had a new set of clothes on.  I felt aweful for their situation and remember thinking, I’d probably do the same thing if I were them and living to survive.
All of this has lead me to a lot of thoughts and not many conclusions.  There are all kinds of ways, theories and methods of helping the poor and we consider many of them in our attempts to help.  My goal with this story isn’t necessarily to come up with the right answers but to simply wrestle and struggle.  I like it.  I like being bothered by the tension all of this causes inside me.  I like remembering this story and feeling the sadness I felt that day again and again because I never forget about them and their true struggle.
Maybe this has been my most depressing post yet, ha!  But my goal in sharing this story is just to tell it.  Just to wrestle and just to remember the reality of life for a community of people across the world.  My co-worker had been taking pictures throughout the week of our time there and I remember asking her not to take any pictures of the markings I was making on their shirts.  I felt so ashamed because of what I was asked to do, even though I understood it.
None of us who were there will ever forget it….what it felt like and looked like.  The only thing that kept me going that day was seeing the smiles on the women’s faces when they had picked out their 3 items, ran out to dress their babies in the new clothes and came back to show us.

The Lady

If you could pick anyone in the world right now to have lunch with, who would it be?  Annnnnyone!  A famous actor or actress?  The president?  Someone in history, like Elvis, Moses or MLK?

I ask this question because recently I discovered the story of a remarkable woman here on earth!  In Southeast Asia, to be exact.  Her name is Aung San Suu Kyi.  My boss recently said, “If I could eat lunch with anyone on the planet right now, it would be Aung San Suu Kyi.”

I would too and here’s why!

If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend watching the movie, “The Lady”.  It really helped me to understand what was and still going on in the nation of Burma today.  In fact, the men and women who made this movie risked their lives to bring awareness and tell the story of a corrupt and unjust government in Burma and how their nation is suffering greatly.

Aung San Suu Kyi (An San Su Chi) is a courageous Burmese woman who’s father was the president of Burma at one time.  He was killed by radicals who later became the leadership of Burma.  It’s been 40 years since Burma was a democratic country and now Aung San Suu Kyi is peacefully fighting for the leadership her father once represented.  She married a westerner from England and together they had two kids.  It was when she went back to Burma for her mother’s death that Burmese University students, monks and hundreds of others approached her and told her that only she could save Burma.  The Burmese people knew her and her father and she was the only one who could rally the people against the government to eventually overthrow them.

The long story short, is that Aung San Suu Kyi did exactly that.  She and her husband began fighting for Burma until her husband was soon banned from the country.  She, being the faithful and courageous women she is, stayed in Burma to rally communities.  It began to work.  Thousands of Burmese people began peaceful protests against the government and although many were killed, Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma marched on.  The government became so nervous about the success of her efforts that they put her in house arrest for fifteen years!  They were trying to run her out of the country and if they succeeded, she would never be able to return again.  In the mean time her family was in Europe missing their wife and mother.

The part of the movie that struck me so deeply was when Aung San Suu Kyi’s husband, in Europe was diagnosed with cancer.  She was still under house arrest in Burma and had to make a decision.  Did she return to her husband in England to be with him during his last days on earth forfeiting her ability to ever return to Burma?  Or…….does she say goodbye to her husband from across the world on the phone and hold out for the cause of freedom for her nation?

No one should ever have to make such a decision, right?

I recently got married and I cannot imagine NOT choosing my husband!

I’m not going to give away the ending of the story.  But I will say that Aung San Suchi is  one of the most incredible women in the world.  Historians put her in the same category as Ghandi, Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.  She won the Nobel Piece Prize and her son accepted it on her behalf since she was under house arrest in Burma.

Today, my world has collided in a small way with the conflict in Burma.  Jury’s orphanage, one of LightBridge’s three orphanages in Thailand rests at the Thai/Burma border and it is because of this very situation that there are orphans for my team and I to take care of and support.  It is because of this conflict that there are over 150,000 displaced Burmese refugees that live in refugee camps and long to return to their home.  It’s because of this very situation that a movie was made to fulfill a dream that An San Suchi has and is still fighting for.

Her plea to those of us who are free, “Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

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To read more about this remarkable woman, click here!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977